Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

Aug 112022
 

I can’t believe I missed Duran Duran Day yesterday! I even saw it on the work calendar earlier this week and was all geared up to Simon Le Bon the shit out of my coworkers, but alas. Here we are, a day late and a…Duran short.

This is super cliché, but my all-time favorite Duran song is Hungry Like the Wolf. I was just a small tot when it came out, and it’s one of those songs that still triggers an emotional response in my brain and belly, and I want nothing more but to be transported back in time, riding to my Pappap’s house in my mom’s red Pontiac with the McD’s sweet and sour sauce stains on the backseat, ready for a long summer day of swimming. Ah, to relive the 80s!

My dad had several Duran Duran CDs in his garage music collection and I can remember sneaking in there during one of our many STAND OFFS and “borrowing” some of them to make mixed tapes with in the mid-90s.

And another strong memory involving this song was the time in high school when I accompanied Lisa to get her bellybutton pierced in Oakland. Her mom was also there since Lisa was a minor, and Lisa’s older friend / former babysitter Kim who I thought was SO COOL back then but then learned as an adult how decidedly NOT COOL she is when we had briefly reunited. Anyway, I had my camcorder with me because that was basically an extension of my arm back then, and I remember walking down the sidewalk and screaming I LOVE THIS SONG as we walked past a parked car with Hungry Like the Wolf emanating from within. (This is yet another reminder to get all of my old home videotapes converted – HENRY HELP WITH THIS PLZ AND THANKS.)

To this day, when I hear this song, I have to pause and take it in, marinate in that 80s new romantic synth bath. It just never gets old to me, and that opening laugh makes me giddy every time.

Pretty  much anything Duran Duran did in the 80s is my personal preference, but tailing Hungry Like the Wolf for my favorite is this masterpiece that they released in the 90s which I always associate with the way my bedroom was arranged at the time – bed to the right of the doorway, facing the window – which my mom did while I was in Europe with my grandparents. Every time I hear that song, I can imagine myself laying on my bed and watching the video on MTV on my teeny tiny white TV on the wavy metal shelf that I STILL HAVE as an adult. 

Anyway, I love when so many childhood memories are attached to a band.

P.S. My aunt Susie had the most majestic Simon Le Bon bouffant back then too – Simon Le Bouffant?

Aug 102022
 

Right after Chooch left for Mexico, Henry and I started to rearrange his room. Nothing too life-altering! It was just basically swapped out a bookshelf and dresser so that there’s more space to walk into his room now. The dresser was too long for the wall it originally sat in front of. Now you can actually open his bedroom door and walk in without getting Ikea “wood” jammed up into your hip!

We also strung up some fiesta bunting as a nod to his one-month home of Mexico.

I don’t think I ever realized that he has a PRIME VIEW of the Cure corner from his room. I’m sure this is so very thrilling to him.

Honestly, I was a nervous wreck all day waiting for Chooch. So many emotions! Happiness that he was coming home, anxiety for him traveling alone, sadness for him having to leave his new friends…I was a mess.

It didn’t help that his flight wasn’t due to land in PGH until around 10:30p, so it was a long ass day, my friends.

LUCKILY!! The lame-o church carnival across the street had an oldies cover band called THE WURMS performing. They played  Stray Cat Strut for approx. 20 minutes and then abruptly left. Henry said that was because they were “practicing” and by that I think he meant SOUNDCHECKING.

They did eventually come back out and went on to play other songs like my fave SECRET AGENT MAN and I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW, but then they reverted back Stray Cat Strut.

HNC was thoroughly enjoying the show, though, and that’s all that matters.

Drew, waiting for Chooch.

Anyway, then we went to the airport and picked him up but you already knew that.

The next day, Janna and Judy came over for WELCOME HOME TACO PARTY!

We even had a bowl of cactus because apparently that was Chooch’s favorite thing that he ate in Mexico but he was REALLY NERVOUS over the fact that Henry had prepared this for him. I mean, we got it at the local Mexican grocery store, Las Palmas, not from the plant section in Home Depot so I dunno what he thought was going to happen?!

I told him to do something for the picture and I guess he was still riding that GROUP PICTURE wave from Mexico because he actually did something instead of yelling at me for wanting a picture.

We were all so happy to have Chooch back and he actually told us stories and let us look at the SHARED ALBUM he has with his Mexico squad! I’m obsessed with them by the way. Earlier that afternoon, he was on a video call with them in his room and it was the purest thing ever, oh my dumb heart.

<3

Apparently, one of the girls in the group (not in his squad though) was a delinquent who lives in a penthouse in Philly and kept going to clubs all night and missing class and she ended up having her college credit revoked! And a fifteen year old girl in the group made out with a twenty year old local on the beach in front of the group leaders!

I also had to laugh because in addition to the language and culture group, there was a smaller group of students there for leadership and something, and every time CIEE would devote posts to them on Insta, I would get so angry because it meant chooch wouldn’t be in it. I kept screaming I HATE THESE LEADERSHIP KIDS! NO ONE CARES! and apparently the language and culture kids felt the same way lol. Chooch said it was so annoying because they weren’t a part of any of the stuff they were doing but always showed up for the excursions and no one liked them. They looked so boring!!

And that was pretty much the weekend, in case you were wondering. Preparing for Chooch and celebrating Chooch!

Aug 092022
 
Oh man, after the Red Arrow, we went to Newbury Comics and spent a good hour there. I went straight for the kpop section and Alyson came with me! I thought she was just humoring me at first, but she stayed with me the whole time and asked me questions about various groups and why some albums came in big boxes while others didn’t, and I was beside myself with excitement to be sharing this part of my life with a friend! And Henry was in such a good mood that he was like, “I don’t care,” when I ran over and asked, “CAN I GET STRAY KIDS,  TOO??”
Anyway, here’s my haul! (Plus the GOT7 album that Alyson gifted to me!)

On the way back to Alyson’s, she asked me to put on Taemin and I was like OMG GLADLY. You guys, no one has requested that I put on kpop before so this was…it was just a good feeling. I felt truly happy and seen! And then back at Alyson’s, I unboxed everything and she was like WHO DID YOU GET? because photocard anticipation is contagious!

I was really just in the most happiest zone all weekend, I swear to G-Dragon.

Later that afternoon, it was ICE CREAM TIME. We drove across the border to Massachusetts for some homemade Dr. Davis Ice Cream.

They had “frozen pudding” as a flavor and I homed in this immediately because I had never heard of such an ice cream combination before. I was going to make Henry order it in case I didn’t like it, but then he asked if he could sample it. Thank god, because he let me try it and it was NOT what I was expecting, so he didn’t order it. I was anticipating something akin to a Pudding Pop only not shilled by a serial rapist, but it was more like a muted vanilla with a hint of cherry? It wasn’t bad by any means, but also not what I was in the mood for.
I ended getting birthday cake because that’s totally my signature flavor tied with red velvet, and also a scoop of Grahamtastic, which was in fact extremely graham and tastic. I loved both of my picks so much, but Alyson’s was the most visually pleasing out of all of ours and now I regret not snapping a pic, but she had bubblegum in a cone with chocolate sprinkles, and it was just had THE LOOK of SUMMER FUN to it.

And then Ryan got a banana split which made me have major ordering remorse because maybe it was actually a sundae that I was craving after all?? UGH I should have made Henry order a SUNDAE!!

Henry ended up getting pineapple coconut or something and it tasted fine but it didn’t HIT my SPOT. Maybe he planned it that way so I wouldn’t be stealing bites?? But then he went back and got a second scoop of butter rum or something, I can’t remember but it was definitely a nursing home flavor and also, it was delicious.

In my zone, my ice cream zone.

Next, we went to Brookdale Fruit Farm! Henry and I had a quiet fight (mostly through flared nostrils and dagger eyes) over my want of a jar of CARROT CAKE SPREAD which Henry thought was OVERPRICED and then asked, “What would you even eat this with?” and I scoffed, “OATMEAL OR WHATEVER I WANT, ALSO NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS” and then I said, “JUST FORGET IT” and put it back but he snatched it back off the shelf and then we had a tug of war in front of an old guy and I never want old people to think I’m a jerk so I let Henry take it but then when we was in line to pay, I grabbed it and put it back on the shelf and then spent the next five minutes mouthing, “DIE, I HATE YOU” to him when Alyson and Ryan weren’t looking but then I was OK once we embarked on our ORCHARD WALK.
I think I just needed to be walked.
We had so much fun walking around all the baby apples and posing for Alyson!

Alyson, looking for frogs.

And now for some LOG PORTRAITS…

I love this picture because Henry looks like he’s hoping to be abducted by orchard aliens, like, “GET ME OUT OF HERE, PLZ, I’LL TAKE ANAL PROBES ANYDAY OVER THIS LOG PHOTO SHOOT.”

Did somebody say….”individually-wrapped prunes??”

My repertoire of poses is very sparse.
I knew this was Queen’s Anne Lace but I never knew that the black dot in the middle was supposed to be “blood” from when she pricked her finger making the lace! Alyson was basically like an orchard tour guide!

Muskrat Watch.

(Also this is how I learned that in Alyson’s region of America, groundhogs are called woodchucks! I never knew they were the same thing!

I so badly want this to be a Ludacris-branded Honeycrisp.

Ryan was taking pictures of a butterfly so then I had to do it too because I’m a follower.

We walked so much! I appreciated that they knew I needed steps and placed me in a scenario where I could achieve my goal. And also that they’re both FitBit users as well and understand the compulsion of counting steps. I love being outside so much and this was such a nice vibe. We did lose Ryan for an extended amount of time though because we got sidetracked by MUSKRAT WATCH.

By the time we made it back to the parking lot, the actual farm store had closed and we were the only car in the lot.

Then it was CEMETERY TIME, which I already posted about and a quick tour of downtown Nashua, where I learned that this fancy restaurant used to be a whore house:

…and that Stephen Tyler’s mom is in a nearby nursing home and he’s sometimes spotted around town!

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye since Alyson’s work days start really early and we had a long drive ahead of us the next day. It was so hard to leave though! Relaxing on their back porch & chatting was so much fun and it really sucks that there is nearly 10 hours of driving time between us. I hope it’s not another nine years before we get to see each other again!

I feel really #blessed that I got to see Bill and Jessi, and Alyson and Ryan, all in the same month. They are all on my very short list of favorite people. Thank you for making time for us, Alyson and Ryan, and for making my birthday so memorable and sweet!

Aug 072022
 

Sunday morning, we picked up Alyson and then went to meet Ryan at his mom’s condo, which is in an old shoe factory and super trendy. I would consider dumping Henry and moving to Manchester, NH to live the single life in a swanky industrial condo.

The building kept some of the original factory things, which made it even more awesome. I am all for retaining history while repurposing a thing.

We got to briefly meet Ryan’s mom while Ryan was finishing up her breakfast – their relationship is adorable and is GOALS for me – although I’m not sure if being in a position where Chooch is my caregiver is something that I should really strive for.

Actually, I just started to clench up at the thought.

But the banter that Ryan and his mom was actually precious and entertaining!

After listening to some music Ryan is working on and dying over the in-progress track list of his and Alyson’s metal album about NOTARY THINGS, we drove to the nearby Red Arrow Diner, which is FAMOUS and real-life presidents have dined there! This is one of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place – dine at famous establishments!

Being scolded by Ryan!

“Now just so you know, this is a FAMOUS diner that ADAM SANDLER has frequented, so don’t go embarrassing me in here, you two!”

The Red Arrow is very very very tiny so we sat at the counter rather than waiting for one of the handful of booths to free up, and that actually turned out to be a great decision because it made me feel like I was a part of things. The two waitresses (Robin, pictured above, was ours and she was FANTASTIC and NO-NONSENSE) had some kind of fake-beef going on with the kitchen crew and it was pretty entertaining.

Henry sat on the same stool that once supported GUY FIERI’S diner-hopping buttocks so I had to immediately text my friend Bill, avid Fieri-hater, who responded with, “That is a cursed seat. I can only imagine the burden Sandra Bernhard carries.”

I brought a mug home with me!

Robin over there giving the kitchen crew a piece of her mind, probably.

J/K! Both Robin and the other lady would always say APPRECIATE YOU after yelling, “CAN I GET A MAPLE SYRUP?!” Also, it was such a tight and narrow space back there that observing both servers maneuver around each other was almost like watching a well-choreographed dance.

I look so tired here but I was extremely content – and hungry!

I had to send this to Chooch because when Romney ran against Obama, Chooch was a staunch hater. I remember being at work one night and Henry texting me that Chooch had popped off in Kmart about how he hoped THAT MITT ROMNEY would lose, lol – he was like 6 or something at the time but had a very firm politcal stance.

OK, I was teetering back and forth between sweet vs savory breakfast but I knew we were going to get ice cream later, so I went with the caprese omelet and RYE TOAST which ended up being the star of the show for me, Bob. It was the type of rye I crave – the thick, fresh, marbeled variety! I was talking about this toast for a solid three days afterward and Henry was just like BEAM ME UP SCOTTY.

I have no idea why my fingers typed those words with absolutely no prompt from my brain because I have never actually watched Star Trek nor do I remember the last time I even heard someone say that? Sometimes I think I become briefly possessed by people I have nothing in common with when I’m writing in here.

I love these pictures so much. Great food and meaningful conversation with awesome friends – the best combo!

ROBIN!

Oh yeah! Then the servers went around and asked if it was anyone’s first time, and if so, where were we from. I was super excited about this – WHAT DID IT MEAN? WOULD THERE BE A CEREMONY?? Especially when Robin ripped several stickers off a roll, held them against her chest, and said DON’T LOOK!

Then the other server RANG A BELL and made an announcement, calling out the locations of the first-timers! She forgot Pittsburgh though and I was sad, but then she remembered and went back and gave us a separate shout-out which was really exciting until I remembered that we were in a region of Pittsburgh haters (THANKS, STEELERS) so then I was trying to hide my face, lol. Anyway, Robin made us put on the stickers and I did so happily. This is also when I realized that there was another roll of CLEAN PLATE AWARD stickers and from then on, I was on a mission to clean my damn plate to get the AWARD.

Of course I succeeded and I was so smug about it, since Henry’s plate wasn’t clean.

BUT THEN HE GOT A STICKER TOO?? I was incredulous over this!

“You still have beans on your plate!!!” I cried, but he tried to legitimize it by saying that they were on “the saucer” portion of the bowl and “were served that way” and that he wasn’t going to “eat them off that plate.”

Um, OK? Seems ridiculous to me, but cook on.

Alyson later commented on Instagram that some people’s awards were won fraudulently, and now FRAUDULENT, FAMOUS BAKED BEANS is part of our TOLHURT repertoire.

My sticker, which was won fairly.

Thank you.

Oh man, we also nabbed one of these for the road, which we ate later that night and I wish we had opted for the bulk package that they offered.

My verdict is that the Red Arrow delivers. I can see why it’s famous and I already can’t wait to go back and try some pie with a side of RYE TOAST.

Thank you for taking us here, Alyson! Good call!

Aug 072022
 

true to form, we waited for him to come down the steps forever and then finally started to wonder where he was so Henry texted him and was like WHERE U AT and he was like BAGGAGE CLAIM?! He somehow walked right past us and we didn’t see him?! So our reunion was extremely anticlimactic.

BUT HE IS HOME, CHOOCH IS BACK!! HE IS ACTUALLY TELLING US STORIES RIGHT NOW IN THE CAR SO BYEEEE.

Aug 052022
 

Please allow me to get a little out of order here and skip ahead to our Sunday evening in Hollis, New Hampshire, where we stopped to stroll about an old ass cemetery. In Pittsburgh, we don’t have any that are *this* old obviously so I was glad for this chance to ogle some 18th century tombstones, after a full day of Famous Diner’ing, Kpop shopping, ice creaming, apple orchard walking – all of which I will get to soon!

1743!!!!

Blending in!

We all split up and quietly observed the history. I was looking for either mine or Chooch’s birthdates because that’s what we do when we go on walks in cemeteries here and whoever spots theirs first wins. I didn’t see any 7/30 or 4/25, sadly :(

We were obsessed with the fact that GEORGEHENRY’s headstone was bigger than his parents and his dad was A DOCTOR! Probably the ONLY DOCTOR, even!

“What’s that finger-pointing symbol mean? I’m #1?” I asked, only moderately joking.

Hennry googled it and it apparently means that he’s going up to Heaven so I guess he’s the only one, because no one else had that.

Michael Myers in the Cemetery stance.

This one was my favorite.

I love how thin the headstones were back then.

Henry and I actually bonded a little over our shared disgust at the FONT that some of these headstones used, where the S looked like an F. HIDEOUS.

DISGUSTING!

Repulsive.

We were obsessed with this one because there was a 40-something age difference between these two.

Abigail and Ebenezer – classic.

DEATH BY ACCIDENTAL CANNON DISCHARGE, zzzzzzoinkers.

Lydia is such a great fucking name. Lydia and Enoch. I wonder if they were a fun couple, getting drunk on boot juice and spreading rumors about who has syphilis.

Man, this was a really peaceful, quiet interlude to an excellent weekend. I’m glad that it’s something we call could experience and appreciate together!

Aug 042022
 

I posted a bunch of these pictures on Insta and my friend Maya said, “Lots of genuine happiness showing through in these…” The Internet and social media definitely have so many negative contributions to life, but without it, I may never have made such true, real friendships, like with Alyson, and Bill & Jessi who we also had the opportunity to spend time with earlier this summer. It sucks that there is so much distance between us but when we get the chance to reunite, it’s literally a party and Maya is so right – you can tell that my smile is real in these! And Henry is, well, Henry.

Alyson and Ryan are both FitBit users so they understood my need to meet my step count for the day and suggested that we take a stroll through the nearby Greeley Park. I kept thinking of the metalcore band Greeley Estates and it was making me nostalgic for Warped Tours of yesteryear. Anyway, this park was so beautiful and forest-y.

Henry looks exactly the same in both shots lol.

I was really this happy all weekend!

The main attraction was the FAMOUS BATHROOM that serves as a backdrop for wedding portraits and the like. I can confirm that, for a public restroom, it really had the most majestic facade. Here’s a picture of NO PICTURES, PLEASE Henry.

Alyson snapped this one – we tag-teamed him and he was not pleased, lol. Two people obsessed with taking his picture? Oof!

I mean, I was drunk, but I didn’t think Henry was – this picture says otherwise!

Serious contemplation.

You guys, I love them so much, lol!

Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube People.

We had such a fun time running around like dummies, watching Ryan climbing a tree (Henry, alleged Tree Climber Extraordinaire according to his mom, suddenly “didn’t feel like” climbing the tree. SUSPISH.), and sitting on cannon things!

Henry found one of his beloved TOBY TREES so we all pretended to be pre-teen Henrys, tokin’ on Tobys. (I still don’t really know how/why anyone would smoke these?? I surely never did as a kid?!)

When we came back to the Wilson abode, Ryan and Alyson got to work on some clandestine dinner which turned out to be 순두부찌개 (soondubu jjigae)!!! I could NOT believe it and came very close to crying because it meant so much to me that they were willing to cook something Korean for me (ugh, apparently Henry was their consultant on this matter, but I give Alyson and Ryan all the credit!). I actually haven’t had any kind of 찌개 in quite some time so it tasted extra good and heart-warming!

Honestly, it turned out so great and was the perfect “I’ve been drinking all day” dinner!

And then a FRUITY PEBBLE CUPCAKE! It was so rich, a real chunky boy! Bigger than my fist! The cake itself was lemon, which is my second favorite cake flavor, next to almond, so I was super content. Korean food and a cupcake? The perfect birthday dinner!

As if that wasn’t enough, I was then gifted with the most recent GOT7 album and I screamed, especially when I pulled my bias Youngjae’s photocard! This was Ryan and Alyson’s first time watching a Kpop album unboxing and they were like WHOA.

“No one buys it for the actual CD,” Henry mumbled.

“Yeah, it’s all about the photobook and other surplus items they throw in,” I explained, holding up a sheet of stickers.

Ryan admitted that this was pretty smart marketing and now I want him and Alyson to do a whole boxed set with a photobook and stickers when they record their metal album about the notary stuff. (Alyson let me see her song list and it is EPIC.) She said she wants one of the pictures to be her angrily stamping papers.

I’m high-key obsessed with this album coming into fruition now.

Day One was so much fun! In honor of my new GOT7 album, I will end this with their member Jackson Wang’s new solo song, Cruel, which just came out last Friday and I watched it before we left for the weekend while Henry was doing all the work packing the car, and maybe this is why he forgot our entire toiletry bag and therefore had to make an early-morning Rite Aid run the next day.

 

Aug 032022
 

Here is what I have been able to snag from various corners of Insta, in addition to whatever crumbs Chooch feels like flicking my way.

They had the actual pinata party thing on week 3. There were a million videos of everyone taking a whack, but none of Chooch, that little jerk!

Yes, yes I am!

I mentioned to Sue at July’s casual lunch that this was something they were going to do eventually, and she was very invested in. I sent her pictures after it finally happened and she said that he should make guacamole for the pie party, and now my mind is spinning with various savory Mexican pies he can make!!

He said his group didn’t win but I even the losers got to enjoy the guac, I’m sure, so to me there were no losers.

I asked him where this was.

“A street.”

Cool!

They did a cooking class thing. This is a screenshot of a video that CIEE Yucatan posted in their story. I have notifications on and I’m always the first like on all the posts so I imagine I’m always the FIRST VIEW on their stories too. Thirsty but for weird reasons.

I need to ask Chooch what he was talking to that guy about in that small picture up there!!!

I think this was on my birthday, when he Facetimed me!!

And then whatever this is!

Man, I’m so excited to see him this weekend!!! Maybe at some point I can get him to do a recap on here of his favorite moments, LOL j/k we all know that’s not going to happen.

Aug 022022
 

Ahhh I’m so excited for these upcoming recaps but also sad because it means the weekend is over. OK, lemme set this shit up for:

I always get depressed on my birthday – not because of AGING, although that’s NOT GREAT. I feel like I whine about this every other year so we’ll skip the history of my birthday depression this time and go right into the remedy: planning something fun so that I have a thing to look forward to. This year, Chooch would be missing my birthday because he chose Mexico over me, so I decided that I wanted to go somewhere for the weekend just to get away and have All of the Fun. I can’t remember why but my friend Alyson and I were engaging in our patented giddy texts – probably something about Hot Naybor Chris or Henry crossing the street, who even knows with us! And it got me thinking that I haven’t seen her in way too long! I had to go back in my blog to find the exact year, and I’m pretty sure it was the winter of 2014 when she was in Pgh to see a band she loved/was friends with and I hung out with them later in her hotel room, where we drank good wine and ate chocolate made by BOBBY BLITZ’S wife.

That was her third time here in Pittsburgh, visiting, and we had only gone to visit her in New Hampshire ONCE so it was definitely our turn. I asked her if she’d be up for it and she said YES and when my birthday weekend was one of the options she suggested, it felt like it was meant to be!

We’ve known each other since 2005, where we met on LiveJournal and I am so thankful that our long-distance friendship has managed to stay solid over all of these years. It’s not often that someone else scream-laughs over the same senseless shit as me!

We left Friday morning and the plan was to get to our hotel in Nashua around 9pm that night and meet for breakfast in the morning, but if you read my liveblog, then you know I managed to stretch Friday out until near-snapping point and we didn’t arrive until 1AM. LOL, sorry Henry.

When we got to Alyson’s Saturday morning, I ALMOST cried. ALMOST. I was just so emotional! Every year, I would write, “MAYBE <INSERT NEXT YEAR> WILL BE THE YEAR WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN!” and finally, 2022 was the magic year. YEAH. BOI.

The only request I had for the whole weekend was BREAKFAST AT PARKER’S MAPLE BARN. Alyson took us here in 2013, where she famously grilled Henry about TED NUGENT. 

I was irrationally mad that Henry and I both wore purple. Especially since his shirt is the shade of purple I like most. Ugh.

First we had to sit in the quarantine room and wait for a table. The hostess even came and SHUT THE DOOR and I started to panic because there was no handle on our side of it!! But then Alyson got the TABLE READY text and Henry strode right up to the door like he had built it himself with tools he carries around in his trunk, and wrenched it right open. We were so in awe.

J/K, no one cared.

But then as one of the hostesses was gathering our menus, she was talking on the phone / bluetooth the whole time about what sounded like personal matters. I was like, “Wow, I don’t want to say this out loud and bring down the mood, but this broad is being super rude.” When we got to our table, Henry kept going on and on about “was there in a hole in the floor?” and finally I snapped, “OMG what are you talking about??” and he was shook that we didn’t see the other hostess behind the register, laying on the floor.

“Oh, was that who our hostess was talking to?? I thought she was on the phone. I was going to say, wow she’s so rude” and Alyson said she was thinking the same thing!

I dunno, I just asked him about it again and his story is awfully convoluted. I have no idea what was happening. “Maybe there was a downstairs,” I don’t know,” he just said exasperatedly so now he has the hostess standing on steps to a storm cellar instead of laying prone on the wooden floor.

We saw SAID HOSTESS a few minutes later, walking about like she hadn’t just been allegedly lying on the floor, so I’m not sure what the hell Henry thought he saw. But now I’m obsessed with knowing.

The main reason I wanted to come here was for the maple coffee – I had never even *heard* of or considered the possibility of maple coffee before  my first visit to Parker’s and scoffed a few years later when STARBUCKS came late onto the maple scene.

It was just as divine as I remembered!

We all had delicious breakfasts but I think Henry won the fast breaking game by choosing DEEPFRIED over grilled when the waitress asked him how he wanted his side of French toast cooked. Holy shit I never want non-deepfried French toast ever again after tasting that.

Henry, post-bathroom emergence.

Henry took this so it is v. unflattering toward me but I need every picture of Alyson and me together so I did not delete! Also, one of the signs is in Korean! It’s the one on the righthand tree, all alone.

Basically the same picture but this filter always tickles me.

Alyson took this of Henry exiting the gift shop, where we bought maple syrup for Chooch and some candy.

After breakfast, we went the long way back to Alyson’s so that we could stop at a nursery called The House on the Side of the Road, I think? It was so cute! They give you small bags of freshly popped complimentary popcorn to eat while plant-perusing!

I bought these two babies and Henry said he was surprised that was all I walked away with. Trust me, I was eyeing up so many more!

Back at the Wilson Residence, we finally met Ryan, who put mimosas in our hands and we proceeded to have the most relaxing / sloshy afternoon, chatting about everything, watching Alyson angrily highlight a misspelling in her cocktail recipe book, and watching the wildlife in their backyard. Also spying on their neighbors, so you know I felt right at home!!

I brought Alyson some Narcisi wine because she was the only person who thought my brother Corey’s and my obsession with this place was funny. She and I alone killed this bottle, plus I took copious swigs of all the delicious frozen drinks she was serving up to Henry.

Yoooo, I was plastered! I drink so infrequently these days that even one drink hits me hard. But, it was my birthday and we weren’t going anywhere, so I kept drinking!

Then, and I can’t even believe this happened and Henry swears he didn’t tell him to do it, but Chooch Facetimed me from Merida!! He was at the beach with his friends and he even let one of them talk to me! I was probably slurring but he’s used to me being weird on the phone so he probably didn’t notice. Alyson got to talk to him too!

This is a good spot to end Part 1!

Aug 012022
 


Today was all car, all the time. We left Nashua around 8am after splitting a leftover birthday cupcake (thanks, Alyson!), agreed on an audiobook, and settled in for the long-haul drive. (A bit over 9 hours, plus all the inevitable stopping.)

I didn’t LiveBlog since we were audiobooking but I probably should have because the book was a ZERO STAR for me, son.

(It was “All I Want” by Darcey Bell, in case you care. I will probably have lots of mean things to say about it in my August book wrap-up.)

Anyway, that picture is from a NY rest stop. I thought the flowers were pretty, because I am 43 now and these are things that delight the Elder Eyes.


For lunch, we went to Apple Valley Restaurant in Milford PA (?). This was after we stopped at a Pilot where some tractor trailer had the audacity to block the exit and one of the Pilot guys had to continually get on the loud speaker to call out the truck # and chastise the driver in an overly friendly tone about how it’s rude to do so and other truckers are now blocked in and he is GOING TO HAVE HIM TOWED IF HE DOESNT COME OUT AND MOVE HIS DAMN TRUCK. Then he went back to showers today look for him there! The other guys working the counter were weighing in on this, how they can always tell which driver it is by the guilty look on their faces but how they will never come forward, and it was really quite something. Trucker drama. Wow.

I actually didn’t understand what the guy had done and Henry explained it to me but it sounded stupid aka I still didn’t understand.

But yeah Apple Valley was not our first or even second or third choice but the one place looked permanently closed, the other made me feel uncomfortable when we pulled in the lot (it was fast-foodish but there were a lot of people eating outside and the inside was packed), but Apple Valley claimed to have a veggie burger so winner winner.

Immediately I was mad because Henry asked for a booth and the only one was right by the lobby so I didn’t get to see the bowels on this wood-paneled eatery. I pouted about this for some time and then pretended to act like I was balking at the prices just to see what Henry would say and when he was like “we can leave…” I snapped, “OH OK SO YOU THINK WE ARE TOO POOR TO EAT HERE THEN?”

We stayed and it’s a good thing too because my veggie burger (which I was expecting to be OUT OF STOCK because supply demands / economy stuff I don’t put attention to etc) was actually pretty delicious. It had avo and also some wonderful pesto mayo on it.


Thick Boi! It was thicker than Henry’s Real Meat Burger!

Also I loved the fancy metal plates.

Our waiter was a young guy named Derrick but Henry thought he said Dick. He was ok but kept disappearing and the hostess had to go looking for me because he was probably out back filming TikToks.

Afterward, we checked out the adjacent candy store where I ended up coming face to face with what is now known as Megan’s Birthday Present, and then I spotted a Mr Gray Guy outside who turned out to be a Mrs Gray Girl so Henry went to the car to get peanuts and I fed her!!

Flying J is next to PA mountains, therefore making it an ok place to stop.

Me in the bathroom looking haggard because I’m 43 now and road trips are now very tiring for me.

We only stopped at one (1) Sheetz if you can believe that!! But it was memorable because Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Kiss Them For Me” was playing and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I heard that in the wild?! This was after we getting gas at Pilot earlier and the gas pumps were ensconced in the synthy majesty of Running Up That Hill.

And not nearly as unexpected but equally as audibly delicious, S vussudio was playing at some point too today – maybe at a Love’s?! Henry clearly tries to hit them all.

We finished the book about 30 minutes outside of Pgh and ranted about it angrily until we got home. The end.

P.S. The lowlight was the book in case you couldn’t tell.

Jul 312022
 

Hello from Nashua, NH! Yesterday was my 43rd birthday and it was a very special one because I got to spend it with my dear friend Alyson and her husband Ryan whom I finally got to meet and he is the post awesome counterpart to Alyson. We had a mist excellent breakfast, bought plants (because we are all Middle Ageds), day-drank myself nearly under the table, went on a scenic walk, ate delicious homemade Korean food, unboxed a GOT7 album, got a surprise FaceTime from Chooch on the beach in Yucatán, cooed at a family of skunks.

It was such a memorable day and I will OBVIOUSLY be back to do a full recap but today is another day spending time with the Wilsons and I am so ready for it!

Jul 292022
 

Good morn’. It’s 9:00am and we’ve departed for our latest weekend adventure. It feels like we left the house an hour ago but we got tied up in a long Dunkin drive thru line and are currently only in Cranberry. Lame.

I convinced Henry to take a slightly longer route to our destination, which will take us through NY instead of across the entire length of Pennsylvania. I’m so sick of making that same drive over and over. I did have an ulterior motive though – this route takes us through Buffalo and I want vegan füdz for lunch.

I brought this book along for the ride. I can go either way with Riley Sager (Henry hates his books) so we’ll see where we land with this one. You care.

I just held the door open for someone at GetGo and as I was making a gloating face to Henry, I almost crashed into the guy I held the door open for so now Henry is clowning me.

Henry got a Krispy Kreme at Get Go and I took a small bite because I don’t often have these things. I think they’re fine but I still don’t understand why people hyperventilate over them. I remember when my hometown got its first location and my family, who had grown to love them thanks to all the car show road trips they went on without me, the Family Pariah, went fucking nuts. Mostly my dad, who was obsessed with these breakfast sweets that are neither crispy nor creamy. This was back when my dad and I hated each other so I think I probably intentionally went into it being a bitter Betty, pre-hating them because I refused to agree with my dad on anything then lol oh teenage Erin. You were a fucking delight.

11:06am: We’re almost in NY! Lake Erie has been on our left for quite some time. I have been quietly reading my book like a precious Princess while Henry houses palmfuls of trail mix.

Made the mistake of asking Henry why gas prices vary by state and now he’s droning on about taxes, totally ruining Taemin’s “IDEA” which is currently playing, so I said “I’m bored now” as I looked longingly out the window.

“Always nice talking to you,” he sighed.

11:40am: a gaggle of Hell’s Angels just puttered past us and I was tempted to flip them off to see if Henry would defend me once we pull into the next rest stop and see them waiting for us. He asked me to please not. Now we’re talking about who kills more people: them or the Pagans and Henry said probably them because they’re “more nationwide.” I wonder if he knows that from when he was studying them to pass the admission test that he ultimately failed because he has NARC written all over him.

“Their leader just died,” he said (why does he know this?!).

“Was he an out of shape slob like the ones that drove past?”

“Well no. He was very skinny because he had cancer.”

That killed the convo.

12:03pm: at my fave rest stop in New York.

He was made because I yelled HENRY just so I could take this lol. Some kid stood at the glass and got a passing by truck to beep and I cried I WANT TO DO IT TOO but Henry muttered “come on.”

LEAVING THE REST AREA AND SPOTTED THE HELLS ANGELS. this was the best shot I could get because Henry didn’t want to get killed.

1:24pm: Just left Sunshine Vegan!

Ok, I loved it. Black-owned vegan establishments just do it better. That’s facts. First of all, we walked in and the owner’s son joyfully greeted us with the announcement that it was his moms birthday and I was like Lord what’s it like to have a kid who cares about your bday?? It was just such a welcoming atmosphere.

I got a po’boy (I’m obsessed with vegan shrimp done right and this was it), Henry got some type of veggie sub (he thought it was a burger lol), and we got a carrot “tuna” salad dip to share. It was all so delicious and I didn’t feel like shit afterward.

And oh my LORD whatever that green sauce is, I wanted to lick every runaway drop off the plate.

This dog’s name is Dinero and he hated Henry! Yessss.

2:14pm: Made Henry detour to some village called OAKFIELD for donuts at some okay donuterie called Sweet Ally’s. I actually couldn’t finish my fruity pebble donut and gave it to Henry but the few bites I had were ok. Nothing to write home about except I guess that is what I’m technically doing??

The best part was this small park behind the donut place that gave walking prompts!! I won at it.

Actually the highlight of this was when Henry was struggling to get SIRI to understand that he needed directions to Sweet Ally’s. She had us going to Utah at one part. I was laughing so hard and he legit yelled at me which made laugh harder.

3:22pm: Stopped in Seabreeze Park land to do some Lake Ontario stuff!

The public restroom here was like a prison cell!

4:03pm: Back in the car. Here are some pictures from our LAKE ADVENTURE which wasn’t much of an adventure but it was still nice to get out of the car and sit on a large rock above splashing lake waves while pretending it was the ocean.

Ok, stay predominating, preDon’s.

Anyway, Henry and I are actually really enjoying each other’s company amazingly even though I did at one point snip: Why can’t you just do what I want and keep your mouth shut about it?” He was like WOW but then proceeded to do what I want hahaha.

Also!! I asked him if he got me something for my bday (tomorrow!!) and he said but that he can’t give it to me until Chooch is back and if that’s my present…I mean, yay! But also, can I have STUFF too? I’m a very STUFF-centric bitch.

6:39pm: We’re at Eddie’s in Sylvan Beach for dinner and regardless of how the food ends up being, this restaurant is MY STYLE. It got mediocre reviews on Yelp for being DATED and LIVING IN THE PAST and NO RENOVATIONS SINCE THE 60s which is how I knew it was the right choice.

That vinyl / carpet combo!

Also, our waitress’s name is Hannah and of course it is because she looks like every Hannah over ever known. (She is very nice.)

News flash: Henry chose PEPPERCORN as the dressing for his salad. I have never known him to select this?!

And then it looked like bleu cheese and he said no it’s peppercorn so I was like HOW DO U KNOW ITS PEPPERCORN and he said because he could taste the peppercorns?! What do they taste like?! Peppery corns?!

Before we ate, we bought some tickets because GALAXI was running this time! Sorry Chooch but we snagged a coaster credit that you don’t have. (Although, he got a country credit that I don’t have so I think he wins this round lol.)

I thought Henry was holding his nose because he too was bothered by the STRONG currents of B.O. being tossed around on this carnival coaster but I guess he just had an itch. It was a really strong stench. Anyway, we thought this was going to be tough and janky but it was surprisingly pleasant! I was a fan.

Couldn’t pass this up! Did it get worse than last year somehow? It just felt like we were mostly in the dark and the “scares” were barely lit. Oh well, I only ride it for that nostalgic aroma of must and grease, and the sound of the pretzel cars turning corners. It’s a vibe.

After eating, I demanded that we walk around some more to digest. Because of all this LOLLYGAGGING, our ETA in Nashua is now 12:18am lolololol.

Today is just “casual driving day” or as Henry calls it “Never Gonna Get There” day lol.

I can’t believe I got milquetoast Henry to do this.

The ride operator was oiling the track!

“I bet he had to sign waivers for that,” I said.

“I bet he didn’t,” Henry said in his I KNOW THINGS tone.

Same day, different lake. This is Lake Oneida! I fell in love with Sylvan Beach when we were visited last September and that love is still going strong. It is such a cute little vacation town! I’m already pining for it.

Anyway, when we left, Henry made me drive for almost TWO HOURS. Ok, 90 minutes. But that was annoying because he always sleeps when I drive so I’m basically driving alone. And I wanted to read my book some more but now it’s 9:23 and dark so thanks Hank.

Well, I’m going to post this now since it’s going to essentially be tomorrow when we check into our hotel. I’ll update if anything noteworthy happens!!

11:50pm: Still in the car as expected but I just realized who our waitress reminded me of:

HOLLY J from DeGrassi, also can a Look be any more early-2000s?!

1:00am: we’re here. Good fucking night.

Jul 282022
 

Yo! For the first time since….possibly pre-COVID??? I had a weekend where I was social every single day. It was actually incredible that I was able to string semi-sensical words together. But, I persevered and ended up having the best weekend!

First off, on Friday night Henry and I went to Megan’s for a porch party. The theme was pineapples and “Meet the New Boyfriend.” I was lowkey a little bit nervous because the pandemic has made socially awkward ass downright Martian’s First Day on Earth. We stopped and picked up some tropical-flavored cider on the way and I did my best to act like that I talk to people, like, all the time.

Um hello, I don’t know why I even had a FLECK of anxiety because Megan is awesome (we became fast friends when she started at The Law Firm in 2019) so I should have known that her friends would also be in that same category. I didn’t feel like an outsider like I normally do when I’m the only one who doesn’t know everyone at social events!

Not only is Megan’s boyfriend Eric wonderful and friendly (um hello anyone who likes the Cure and asks genuine questions about my time in South Korea is A+ in the How’s My Boyfriend feedback system), but her friends are hilarious, down-to-earth, and totally inclusive.

I think they liked me more than Henry which is great because usually people think Henry is SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.

Anyway, I’m so glad that Megan invited us and I’m still laughing because Henry and I were both kind of tired after work on Friday and I said, “Well, we’ll just go for like an hour” but then we were having such a great time talking to everyone that one hour became almost 5 and we were one of the last ones to leave, lol. I actually felt like myself that night and it’s good to know that the old, friendly, outgoing Erin is still in there somewhere.

On Saturday, I met Jeannie and Wendy for our first breakfast since before Covid! I have seen them numerous times since then in various work settings, etc. but it was so awesome to get to hang out casually like old times,  not talk about work, and eat a good breakfast! I should have taken more pictures, but we went to the Upstreet Diner, which replaced one of the Pamela’s locations we sometimes went to (in Squirrel Hill) and I thought it was pretty decent! It’s a Turkish-inspired place that only just opened in April and while Pammy’s is still so so so hard to beat on that breakfast tip, this was something different and unique – we all agreed that it was a good choice.

(Oh, who chose it? THIS GIRL, you’re welcome.)

I had pancakes that had melted brie on it! I really liked it but my one critique was that I wish that I had brought me extra syrup rather than pre-pouring it for me because, and I’m not a big syrup slut by any means, but they didn’t put enough on it so the bottom pancake was really dry.

Wendy had a Turkish take on eggs Benedict, which had no meat (!!) and came on a cheesy phyllo pastry which was DIVINE and probably what I would order next time. Jeannie had salmon toast and she loved it. It looked substantial, too! I was considering getting the vegan avocado toast but worried that it wouldn’t be enough, but after seeing the size of her toast, I think I would have been OK!

It was really nice to just chill, drink endless cups of coffee (our waitress was so laid back and didn’t make us feel rushed), and catch up. I missed these breakfasts and having them harangue me for parking several blocks away because I prefer to park in a lot rather than drive around looking for street parking!

This doesn’t really count as SOCIAL ACTIVITIES but on Sunday, Henry and I got take-out from ShadoBeni and ate it in the cemetery.

This was a fried mushroom sandwich that I considered making out with in between bites. Holy shit. Thebun was a coconut bake! I LOVE SHADOBENI.

And this cassava tart thingie to share for dessert! I also had sea moss punch which is my fave ShadoBeni bev. (ShadoBevi???)

Social interlude: Henry spraypaints a TV for the very first time. Shucks, I love watching him do al the things on my List.

Later that day, Janna came over and we walked to the Hollywood in Dormont to see Nope.

It was….well…

…a NOPE for me, Simon.

This really kills me to admit that too because I have loved Jordan Peele’s other movies. At first I was like, “Maybe I’m not understanding the social commentary of this one” but I went home and read some shit and no, I understood it just fine. I just sadly didn’t like it. I should disclaim that I went into it knowing nothing because In Peele I Trust, but had I known what the subject matter was, I would have known that I wasn’t going to be into it.

I just don’t fuck with that trope. It doesn’t interest me at all, nor does it scare me :/

And the pacing of this movie was so weird that I was straight up bored out of mind at times, and I found myself wanting to reach for my phone but then remembering that I was in a theater and catching myself at the last minute!

But the upside is that Janna came over a little early so we at least got to hang out beforehand and talk about how much we miss Chooch lol. If he was home, he would have went with us! He always goes to the ‘wood with us!

Well, I think that about covers the highlights of the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re leaving for our road trip to New Hampshire so…look for a live blog probably!? Lol. Apologies in advance.

Jul 272022
 

Now that Chooch has a “squad” in Mexico, we’re getting less and less updates from him and that’s FINE, let the boy live his life, etc etc. But damn yo it’s excruciating being a mom over here waiting to be fed, yanno?

He sends us the dumbest pictures too and then doesn’t even tell us what they are so basically we’re at the mercy of the CIEE Yucatán insta. Let’s see what they shared during week 2:

Except for this! Chooch sent it to me because he went ice skating and had to exchange his skates multiple times and then got a BIG BLISTER. This was right after he went to the beach and got a BIG SUNBURN.

On Monday of Week 2, they made pinatas! I was definitely a little jealous because my Monday just consisted of screaming into the void, which is also known as Monday thru Friday.

Then one day, they went to a museum to look at ART and I did not know this until CIEE posted pictures.

Last weekend, they had an overnight trip to Vallodolid, where they went to the 7th wonder of the world, Chichen Itza, saw spider monkeys which he didn’t tell me about until I ASKED, and swam in a cenote. They ziplined too!

You guys, this is apparently his squad! Why was I worried about him going on this solo trip and being miserable? He always makes friends so fast!

I *am* annoyed that he was one of the few that didn’t have on the CIEE shirt. I’m sure he wasn’t paying attention and missed the memo, which is very on brand.

I think this is his Level 2 group. I’m pretty impressed that he’s only taken one high school year of Spanish and managed to place himself into the middle of three levels! I was laughing though because he told Janna before he left that he didn’t know any Spanish and she seemed concerned about this. I was like, “He’s probably trolling you, Janna” and she was like, “You’re probably right.” I mean, whose son is he?!

It’s so weird, but over the weekend I was going through some boxes of photos that I brought home from my grandparent’s house in 2016 and there was a stack of photos from when my Aunt Sharon visited the Yucatan in the 90s. Then, the same day, I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers and she was showing some stuff from her closet that she was donating to ThreadUp She held up a dress and said, “Here’s the dress I wore recently when I visited Chichen Itza” and then a picture of her from there popped up in the corner and I was like, “Wow. That’s a sign of something, I guess.”

Chooch’s squad again!

He’s only got one and a half more weeks to go and I have a feeling he’s going to be Mr. Miz when he comes home. I always fell into a deep depression/mourning as a kid when I would come home from big trips. Henry was like, “You still do though??” and then I remembered the Post-Korea Depression and laughed sadly. Yes, I still do.

Anyway, I’m excited to find out tomorrow on the weekly CIEE blog post what Chooch has been up to this week because as usual, no info. Which is fine, you know, live your life, bro. Be in the moment, etc etc!

Jul 252022
 

Henry mentioned that Kennywood was giving away free ice cream last week to pass holders and I was like, “I’m down for some free ice cream” so we went to  Kennywood after work on Thursday. Of course, it was a day that I actually went into the office, so by the time I came home and changed, it was after 6:30 when we got to Kennywood and because amusement parks have lame hours now, the park was set to close at 8. Boo hiss.

But the one good thing about getting there so late is that hordes of people were exiting when we were walking in, so even STEEL CURTAIN, that cursed coaster, only had a 15 minute wait. AND there was a nun AND a priest in line, AND it was running two train ops! MIRACLE?? Maybe.

THERE THEY ARE!! ^^^

Anyway, Steel Curtain is pretty great. My opinion fluctuates a lot because I want it to be a little bit better than it is and also maybe not so rattle-y considering how new it is. But I do like it overall! It just doesn’t have that WOW factor, and I mean, it really should because it still currently holds the record for the most inversions on a coaster in North America but you don’t really get off the thing feeling you just rode a record-holder, you know?

And in our case on this evening, you don’t get off the coaster until after maintenance fucks around and keeps your train parked out on the brake run in a knucklefucking downpour.

I mean, it was some heavy rain, people, and we were totally exposed, like sitting ducks. And the wind was kicking up all around us too so I was terrified that we were going to slammed with airborne projectiles. YOU NEVER KNOW. Don’t fuck with weather! Some broad died at Kennywood years ago when a microburst blew through!

Yeah, so were pretty fucking angry about this. I don’t know what was going on but as soon as we hit the brake run, one of the JOCKOS as Henry would say made an announcement that “SOMETHING SOMETHING BLAH BLAH 20 MINUTES” so the empty train in the station just sat there and ours couldn’t pull in. Thank god whatever was happening didn’t take the full 20 minutes and we eventually got to get off the damn thing after about 5 minutes, at which point the ride operator (who is ALWAYS there), chirped a quick and totally insincere “sorry” into the mic and I honestly wanted to kick him.

2 for 2 getting stuck in a rain storm at an amusement park that week! I was having a really great hair day too oh well.

“Do you think God was pissed that his people were riding coasters on his time so he made the sky open?” I hypothesized giddily.

“Well, no, because they were on the train in front of us and didn’t get stuck like we did!” Henry rationalized.

“Henry, even GOD fucks up, everyone knows that!” I mean, he allowed DONALD TRUMP to happen, didn’t he?

Steel Curtain: Not a Bad Ride.

The rain didn’t last for very long so we were able to ICE CREAM AND CARRY ON.

Um, hello, Henry failed to mention that it was only free to the first however-many passholders! So we had to pay. I would have opted to just go to Golden Nugget but it was already closed, and honestly this was still just as satisfying. I haven’t had true soft serve at Kennywood in a hot min.

After ice cream, we got in a ride on our beloved Phantom’s Revenge (walk-on!), attempted to ride Swingshot with five minutes left before the lines closed at 8pm but it started pouring down rain again as soon as we sat down and they were like “We can’t run the ride in this but you’re welcome to stay on the ride.”

….?

Why would we want to sit on a non-running ride while sheets of water poured down on us? N-n-n-no thanks. Of course, a few minutes later, the rain ended.

Honestly, Steel Curtain, soft serve, and Phantom’s Revenge in less than 90 minutes wasn’t the worst way to end a random Thursday evening in July.

And now, I’ll leave you with this apropos dulcet tune by Yangyang, Kun, and Taeil of NCT. <3